“We want to transform a broken system of care,” says Jane Isaacs Lowe, who oversees the foundation’s Vulnerable Populations portfolio. “I don’t want to be in a wheelchair in a hallway when I am 85.”
The Green Houses face several obstacles, including regulatory issues. But some say they also face resistance from existing nursing homes, which are based on an economies-of-scale model--the larger the home, the cheaper it is to care for each individual resident.
While some nursing home operators welcome the idea of Green Houses, others are reluctant to help pay for them, says Susan Reinhard, who heads the AARP’s Public Policy Institute. “You have owners who have their personal wealth invested in a model that was requested by society way back,” she says.
A significant challenge is convincing the nursing home operators that Green Houses aren’t too expensive. “The biggest criticism I hear is, ‘How do you make it work financially?’” adds Larry Minnix, CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (www.aahsa.org), which represents not-for-profit nursing homes as well as assisted living and retirement communities.
The foundation says it’s studying the financial sustainability, but early indications show that it’s financially doable.
Source: R. A. Kane, T. Y. Lum, L. J. Cutler et al., "Resident Outcomes in Small-House Nursing Homes: A Longitudinal Evaluation of the Initial Green House Program," Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, June 2007 55(6):832–39
Pictured above is the Tabitha Green House Project in Lincoln, Nebraska, a new and attractive choice for elders and their families. In May 2006, Tabitha opened the nation’s second Green House Project. The Green House transforms the way care is delivered, departing from the traditional nursing home model by bringing long-term care into a home setting. Nine people live in the first Green House, each with their own private room and bath.